It can be hard to spot burnout symptoms, especially when you're working from a home office. At first glance, symptoms of overworking seem pretty innocuous. You might, for example, occasionally experience a lack of concentration, fatigue, signs of mental exhaustion, and irritability. Then, these “occasional” conditions can become frequent enough that they start to feel like a lifestyle. The challenge is that a person on the verge of work burnout rarely has the ability to self-diagnose or reach out for help from therapists or friends.
Unfortunately, the pace of modern life doesn't leave you a chance to stop and take time to relax. When we spot the first signs of burnout, we tend to downplay them and say something like: "It's just stress, it'll go away soon." In doing so, we forget that stress is a serious issue that can snowball into a chronic state and eventually lead to burnout.
That's why it's essential to timely identify the early signs of burnout before your situation becomes more serious. This post will help you spot the first symptoms of overworking. Let's review them.
Work burnout doesn't arrive out of the blue. It develops over time, as a result of factors that you can look out for, like:
As a result of these burnout factors, you might develop symptoms of exhaustion and stress. In the next section, we'll discuss those in more detail.
There are certain mental health red flags that can warn you to take action if you notice them. For example, if you are experiencing several of the feelings and events from this list, you may be heading for mental exhaustion:
When a person starts to develop the first signs of work burnout, everything can feel like a struggle: going to work, engaging with colleagues, and even performing simple tasks.
These symptoms, however, are common for a number of mental health issues, including chronic stress. There are a number of stages of burnout that have been identified by psychologists, but five distinct stages of burnout can be easier to identify than others, these include: excitement, blaming others for your stress, emptiness, depression, and mental or physical collapse.
Moreover, there are specific physical symptoms that are signs of mental exhaustion.
It can start with fatigue. You may feel as though you are not getting enough sleep and console yourself with the thought that you'll catch up over the weekend. Episodes of fatigue that repeat day after day, are a sign of something more.
That can be when you start to develop symptoms of exhaustion, including frequent headaches, increased blood pressure, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, and a decrease in immunity. Since people on the verge of burnout often ignore their physical and emotional health, they don't seek timely medical help. This can aggravate their already neglected health.
Chronic stress can impair the cognitive functioning of the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for things like memory, decision-making, and the ability to concentrate. People who are about to burn out can make uncharacteristic mistakes, procrastinate, experience forgetfulness, and have trouble making workplace decisions.
Physical and mental exhaustion can lead to communication difficulties. There are two very different ways that burnout can manifest: apathy or workaholism.
In the first case, a person experiencing signs of burnout can't seem to pull themselves together and find the energy to maintain a conversation and demonstrate emotional engagement. Workaholics, on the other hand, can become irritable, critical, and aggressive. In both cases, it's hard to communicate with someone who is on the verge of being burned out, since you have to carefully choose your words to avoid an argument or hurt feelings.
One of the more noticeable burnout symptoms is an obsession with work. For example, if you are lying in bed unable to put aside obsessive thoughts about work so that you can relax and fall asleep, or you feel anxious or guilty when you're engaged in any activity other than work, you may be on the verge of becoming a workaholic and burning out.
Once you detect the first signs of burnout, don't freak out. There are things that you can do to successfully address this issue. You may choose to:
"Reading motivational books, taking time for walks on my own helped me fight burnout and exhaustion a lot. I needed to find peace within myself, and this helped me a lot. I tried meditation to give my brain at least 10 minutes without the stream of thoughts and worries about work. Also, I clearly defined working hours and non-working hours, when, under no circumstances, I would think about work."
ValeriiaSoftware Testing Engineer, Ukraine, Kyiv
We hope that our suggestions will help you spot common burnout symptoms, and either avoid experiencing this issue or successfully deal with it.
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